Dr. Peter Ladefoged, one of the world's foremost experts on endangered and disappearing languages, explains why languages disappear and how some languages, like Gaelic and Hebrew, were revived by speakers who did not want them to die.
Nearly half of all known languages may soon be lost.
A grassroots project that is allowing every day people contribute in the task of preserving endangered languages. The idea is for speakers all over the world to record themselves speaking their language and upload it to a universally accessible website. From there, linguistics sort and analyze the data so that it can be archived to preserve the language. This is an interesting idea, but seems a bit problematic in some sense. Not every language group has access to the internet so would need more assistance in recording their language. However, the general idea is great.
This webpage provides lectures from a symposium on rare and endangered languages from around the globe. It discusses from an academic perspective how we can address the issue of language death and what it actually means to have a language die. Featuring many different types of linguists, this symposium offers some insight into the path language survival is taking. One interesting concept discussed at this symposium is the idea of documenting endangered languages. In my eyes, this is an important piece in preserving language even if no native speakers are still alive. Check it out!
A great website by the First Peoples' Cultural Council illustrating several methods used for language revitalization. One interesting strategy is the use of traditional and cultural programming to support language revitalization in Aboriginal communities. These programs use traditional activities such as song singing or basket weaving to facilitate language learning and use. Check out this strategy and others like it at this webpage!
“All of them are endangered,” says one academic. “There are no exceptions.”
A modern example of language revitalization! Although the article was written in 2010, it is great to see that three years ago projects like these ones were beginning to unfold. Linguists devised teaching groups to get the young, speaking their Aboriginal languages once again. They even created strategies to recover lost Aboriginal languages! I wonder what the status of these languages are now, after three years have past. I hope that the number of people speaking these languages are steady increasing due to programs like these.
“ TIME200-Year Drought May Have Caused Death of Sumerian LanguageTIMESumer was one of the first great ancient civilizations, credited with inventing one of the earliest forms of writing, cuneiform, as well as inventing the wheel and the arch.”
Via Aurora Humarán
This is a great movie that takes the viewer through what actually happens to dying languages. I saw this movie about a year ago and it has only furthered my interest in language learning and preservation. I particularly like how this movie documents the emotions of speakers who are the last of a language. To try and put yourself in their shoes is something that is almost un-imaginable. Check out the trailer through this link and perhaps you'll be interested enough to get your hands on a full version!
How do you preserve a language that's in danger of being forgotten? Turn it into art. The Sherman Gallery at Boston University is currently running an exhibition of works by Moroccan artist Hamid Kachmar, who for twenty years has been...
What a fantastic idea! The artist Hamid Kachmar decided to use his art to preserve his language due to its endangerment. He art work is not only beautiful, but records the beauty of his language and even tells a story of some of the history surrounding the language. Check out the link to see some of his artwork and to hear about his story!
Language endangerment is a serious concern to which linguists and language planners have turned their attention in the last several decades.
Check out what the Ethnologue has to say about language endangerment! This article has a great list of things linguistics look for to judge whether a language is endangered or not. The list includes things like speaker population, economics and the age of speakers.
Canada is originally home to many diverse Aboriginal communities, each with their own language, that carries with it unique cultural background. However, with other langauge such as English, French and even Taglog becoming more prominant within Canada, many of these Aboriginal languages are becoming endagered and extinct. In recent years, new tactics have been created to combat the extinction of more aboriginal langauges. This article explains the many methods of trying to strengthen interest in Aboriginal languages. New university degrees, community programs and adult learning classes are all part of the plan! Check the article out to learn more about these great movements in language survival.
An interesting bit of information on writing systems and languages. Many of the world's languages do not have writing systems for a variety of reasons, but it does seem that languages with orthography flourish. Perhaps this is part of the key to language vitality. Writing preserves language, but it also allows a language to develop in new ways and interact with the rest of the world. This was definitely some food for thought!
A great resource from The United Nations that highlights language extinction, endangerment and vitality. Check out the neat atlas feature that allows you to look up languages. You can see their status and location throughout the world with this feature. Seeing the status of a language in such a visual way really brings home the message that languages are dying and that something needs to be done about it!
What can be done to save a language? Has there been any languages that have been saved from death? This article highlights and answers some of these questions with case studies from around the globe. For me, the most fasinating part of this article was the fight Irish had to stay alive as a language. I never realized that it was a language ever in danger of extinction! The article also goes into a lot of detail about how languages become extinct, through the use of several examples. It explores the idea that the globalization of English may be a leading cause in the extreme language death we see occuring today. It deeply concerns me that this is happening, but this article gives me hope for saving languages from this fate.
With the number of languages steadily shrinking, what is lost when a language dies?
This article outlines the reality of language death in a very simple way. It highlights the importance of preserving language and what can be lost if and when a language dies. The loss of culture, knowledge and identity are all examples of what we loose as a global community when a language is lost to the world. Perhaps articles like this should be shared more in order for the world to become more aware of this sorrowful truth. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could preserve and help languages thrive!
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